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Cynthia Reinhart-King

Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Engineering; Professor of Biomedical Engineering; Director of Graduate Studies in Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering expert whose research focuses on reducing cancer metastasis and artery hardening.


The central mission of the Reinhart-King lab is to understand the mechanisms that drive tissue formation and tissue disruption during diseases such as atherosclerosis and cancer. Specifically, they focus on how physical and chemical cues within the extracellular environment drive fundamental cellular processes including cell-matrix adhesion, cell-cell adhesion and cell migration. They employ multidisciplinary methodologies involving principles from cell biology, biophysics, biomaterials and biomechanics. Of particular interest are the pathophysiology of angiogenesis and atherosclerosis and the extracellular cues driving metastatic cell migration. They use a multi-scale approach to understand how cells integrate physical and chemical cues within their environment. At the tissue level, they characterize the structural, mechanical and compositional changes occurring in tissues during disease progression using advanced imaging techniques, mechanical measurements, histology, and biochemical assays. They use this knowledge to build models of healthy and diseased tissues using tissue engineering approaches and microfabrication. At the cellular level, they use these models to understand how physical and chemical features within the extracellular matrix alter cell behaviors such as adhesion, migration and proliferation. At the molecular level, they use various cellular and molecular biology tools to uncover the intracellular pathways being affected by the microenvironment. This multi-scale, integrated approach has the power to uncover novel therapeutic targets to slow and/or prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis and metastasis.

Media Appearances

  • Like geese, cancer cells play follow the leader

    “Our work is the first to say, in addition to proliferation, migration is also energy-demanding,” Reinhart-King says. “That means we can also target migration through metabolism. Our experiments used breast cancer cells, but the same mechanism holds true to lung, colorectal, skin, and other cancers, so the underlying research is vital to learning how we might defeat all of those.”

    March 26th, 2019

  • Ionizing radiation found to soften tumor cell microenvironment

    "We wanted to know how radiation effects the tissues surrounding cells, particularly how this changes the stiffness of the matrix," said Cynthia Reinhart-King, an author on the paper. "The change in tissue stiffness during tumor growth can be palpable. Stiffness, for example, is what you would look for in breast self-exams."

    April 3rd, 2018

  • Tumors' mechanical properties affect protein production

    “It’s a general universal phenomenon that when given this stiffer environment, cells change how they produce proteins,” said Cynthia Reinhart-King, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and the paper’s senior author. Francois Bordeleau, a postdoctoral associate in Reinhart-King’s lab, is the paper’s lead author.

    June 23rd, 2015


PostDoc, University of Rochester School of Medicine

Ph. D, University of Pennsylvania

S.B, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

S.B, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


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